Bottom of the order anything but quiet in San Diego romp

April 1st, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- The 10-cent analysis of the 2024 Padres said they were too top heavy. They were relying too much on the star hitters and would not put pressure on pitchers up and down the lineup.

These Padres just might drop a dime on those pundits.

After a 13-4 victory over the Giants on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park, the Padres twice have put together monster offensive performances that included big contributions from the bottom three hitters. It mirrored their 15-11 victory over the Dodgers in the Seoul Series.

Against the Giants, , and were a combined 6-for-14 with a home run, a double, five RBIs and four runs. Against the Dodgers, Campusano, Tyler Wade and Merrill were 7-for-14 with three RBIs and five runs.

“Hopefully, it continues,” said leadoff batter Xander Bogaerts. “We’ve got a lot of kids who are pushing for playing time. Those guys are hungry. … Having competition just brings out the best in each and every one.”

If anything, the Padres did the Seoul Series game one better by getting hits from every starter, one through nine. In fact, they had done so before the third inning was complete, earning a four-game series split against their former manager, Bob Melvin, in the process.

The offensive outburst gave plenty of breathing room in his first start with the Padres. The right-hander, part of the package from the Yankees in the Juan Soto trade, walked a career-high seven over four innings but also struck out six and surrendered just two hits.

“I was searching mechanically out there,” King said. “I’m really thankful we put up a lot of runs.”

With Blake Snell not yet ready after signing late in Spring Training and several other starting pitchers sidelined by injury, the Giants turned to right-hander Daulton Jefferies for a spot start. It did not go well.

Batting seventh, Campusano capped a five-run first inning with a three-run homer that found a friendly spot in the Petco Porch in the right-field corner. It traveled a Statcast-projected 329 feet, matching the shortest home run at Petco Park since official tracking began in 2015. (Arizona’s Gabriel Moreno had a 329-footer off Rich Hill on Aug. 17 last season.)

Among the home run estimates preceding Statcast, Xavier Nady had the honor of the shortest one at Petco Park, 323 feet in 2011.

Pauley, making his first Major League start, played third base and batting eighth. He struck out three times but also singled in the third inning and scored on a double by Merrill, the No. 9 hitter. It was Merill’s first RBI in the Majors.

“It was pretty cool,” Merrill said. “He’s my boy. He’s a beast. That’s all I can say for him.”

Merrill (San Diego's No. 2 prospect) and Pauley (No. 8) have played together at every level of the Padres’ organization, except Triple-A -- because both skipped that level while being fast-tracked to the Majors this spring. They arrived with confidence they could succeed, but their spots in the lineup remind them that they have much to prove.

“I know my role,” Merrill said. “It’s to be a second leadoff batter, get on [base], turn the lineup over. I’m going to try my best. … They trust me to do my job. As the season goes on, we’re going to see how that plays out.”

Thus far, the young season has played out to the tune of a 3-3 record against NL West foes. The Padres split two games with the Dodgers in Korea and four against the Giants at Petco Park. Both clubs had headline-making offseasons, as did the D-backs, the defending NL champions.

The division is a challenge for a Padres club that made its headlines by not keeping star players -- Snell, Juan Soto and Josh Hader. Merrill, for one, welcomes that challenge as much as he does the jump to the Majors.

“There’s a lot of talk about the Dodgers and Giants’ offseason, the Diamondbacks’ offseason,” Merrill said. “Nobody really talks about us. We kind of like it that way, kind of want to leave it that way.

“We’re going to play our game the whole year. Then, when it’s time to talk about something, that’s when we can talk about it.”